— Urban Transport
Xfire system projects a bike lane onto the road
A lot of people won’t ride a bicycle on city streets because they’re scared that a vehicle will run into them. This fear certainly isn’t helped by the many drivers who unknowingly get dangerously close to cyclists while driving alongside them. Xfire’s Bike Lane Safety Light is designed to address that problem by using lasers to project a virtual bike lane on the road around the bike.
Powered by two AAA batteries, the device uses dual 5-milliwatt red lasers to project two lines onto the asphalt, extending back from either side of the bike. While those lines don’t do anything to physically protect the cyclist, they do provide motorists with an attention-getting visual guide as to how much distance they should be keeping. The device also serves as a standard tail light, incorporating five “extremely bright” red LEDs.
True, some people just won’t care about lines on the road, but in many cases drivers simply don’t realize how much space a cyclist requires – this is a way of letting them know, not unlike those side-extending safety flags that some riders use.
Given that all of the supplied photos show the device at use in the dark, it would be good to know how much the projected lines show up in the daylight, when most people are actually out cycling. For what it’s worth, the company website does mention that they are visible under headlights and streetlights.
The folks at Xfire aren’t the first to think of this idea, incidentally. Designers Alex Tee and Evan Gant came up with a very similar concept in 2009, which seems to now be commercially available as the Laser Lite Lane. British design student Emily Brooke, on the other hand, built a one-off device that projects a symbol onto the pavement in front of the cyclist, to let drivers know that a bicycle is approaching from the rear.
The Bike Lane Safety Light is available for order now, and is priced at US$39.99. It can be seen in use in the video below.
Source: Xfire via PSFK
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
@Janneke Kimstra: Complain, complain. This is far better than nothing at all, and it illuminates very well where the rider actually is.
Looks pretty cool, but I think the margin is way to small. It's barely 35 cm's either side of the rider. That's nowhere near enough to be passed safely. It should be at least twice as wide if not 3 times... If a car passes you this close with speed you get sucked into the next car's path.
I keep saying that we don't need new bike designs, we need more bike lanes so people will be safe and will ride bikes more but this is an excellent solution when your on a road that has none. So smart and so simple. More bikes on the road means less traffic and healthier people.
I think the width of the lane is easily adjustable.
Bike lanes are not all they are made out to be. Look at how many of them are painted directly into the door zone of parked cars. Bike lanes are great for uneducated cyclists who think such things are going to make riding safer.
Take a cycling safety class (cycling savvy) and be truly safer when you ride.
Biking for recreation on narrow curved roads is a stupid choice. Biking in urban environments and running stop signs and stoplights is another stupid choice. Biking just after "happy hour" and late nights on weekends when there are drunks on the road is a stupid choice. This light does not avert death from stupid biker choices and inept drivers.
The driver that's going to clip a biker does not have full control of their vehicle, and with some, doesn't know the exact extents of their vehicle. There's nothing more dangerous than a smug cyclist - this promotes more of those characters than protects anyone. Lastly, projecting your own road markings is also highly illegal - you can't erect your own traffic control device, biker or anyone else.
We're just hoping a few more people will see us, that's all. We're not evil or stupid just because we're cyclists. We do sometimes make mistakes or bad choices...just like every one else. Even smug drivers.
We're just people who happen to be on bikes.
"Traffic control device?" How is this any different from any of the taillights, marker lights or turn signals on your car? It's the same principle of telling you the boundaries of the vehicle. The only difference is that the unmarked rider tends to be a lot wider than a bike, so why shouldn't the lights show the width of the rider?
FYI, driving while drunk is the stupid choice which can and does kill pedestrians and occupants of automobiles as well. Don't blame the victims.
I'm all for cyclists running lights, it's the cyclist being unstable, hard-to-see, and unpredictable in their riding path and rule-following that's the problem as far as i'm concerned. A cyclist running these lights should be way more aware of just how not straight bikes ride...
This is great as it provides a buffer zone around the cyclist. Many drivers are unaware of how much space is safe around a cyclist. Anything that helps drivers avoid hitting cyclists is a good idea.
I'd use one. Isn't this the same idea? http://www.gizmag.com/bike-lane-travels-with-you/12092/
Just got an answer from the company by email. Unfortunately this requires the use of non-rechargeable Alkaline AAA batteries.
Disappointing as it makes it expensive for commuters. Hopefully a later generation will work with rechargeable batteries.
Hey GizMag, a little more research please!
These (in several varying designs, including some just like the one shown) have been sold for under $20 for over a year from the likes of http://dx.com/s/bike+laser+tail and ebay.
In France, cars need to leave a gap of 1m when passing bikes in urban environments and 1.6m in non-urban...not that it is respected or enforced of course! Would be useful if it can be adjusted to these measures to comply & help educate drivers to this fact. A step in the right direction!
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